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FPS - First Person Shooter

First person shooters are the types of games that have made for good press coverage. Some folks are fond of saying they teach murder.

Most games are "third person," meaning you see your character as you act for that character. Or you are some kind of disembodied person who hovers godlike above the playing field.

In first person shooters, your screen is like your eyes. And at the bottom of the screen is the weapon you're weilding. When they are combined with freedom of motion (no movement "track") first person shooters can be extremely immersive. Soon after the first-person shooter, Wolfenstein 3D, hit the market, you could almost hear the internet groan as millions of teenaged boys jumped online to play high tech ultraviolent tag.

First person shooters are so immersive, in fact, that they make many players sick. They get a kind of motion sickness from watching the world tilt about as they dash at high speeds through hallways.

In recent history, the development of FPS shooters has followed a pattern. A company develops an "engine" meaning a software platform for graphics and gameplay. They release a "pure" FPS with the engine - meaning people use it to run around and kill things (Unreal, Quake). Then people license that engine to develop more plot-heavy games, often merging FPS with adventure or role-playing.

Games like Quake III: Arena and Unreal Tournament are immensely popular as 3D environments where people share space. Games like Half-Life (built on the Quake engine) and Deus Ex (built on the Unreal engine), they take the immersion offered by first person environments and push the boundaries of computer storytelling.

Year Single or Multiplayer Game Title Significance
1992SingleWolfenstein 3D Very cartoonish FPS - not even 3D, but a more consistent immersive environment than what had come before. Also revolutionary for electronic distribution of shareware - not sold so much in stores.
1992SingleDoom Added more weapons, demons, darker overtones.
1992SingleSystem Shock Serious science fiction hacker single player adventure wedded plot, RPG and first person shooter.
1996BothQuake Total 3D. Network play.
1998BothHalf-Life Excellent writing combined with a new high-point in game atmosphere lead to a runaway success.
1998SingleThief "First person looter" or "First person sneaker" - this was the first FPS to place a premium on silence and stealth.
1998BothUnreal Eyepopping visuals - set a new standard for FPS aesthetics.
2000MultiCounter-Strike Terrorist/Counter-Terrorist FPS lauded both from the cubicles of and the pages of the Economist - adds strategy and more realistic weapons and situations to online play.
2000SingleDeus Ex Flexibility of character development in a FPS RPG.

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